Conference on road safety gives recommendations to the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways
Instead of talking in general about interventions needed in road accidents, it is imperative to know the nature of accident and the stage where you need intervention,” said Dr C P Joshi, Union Cabinet Minister for Road Transport and Highways at an international conference on road safety vision held in Udaipur. He was speaking at a two-day gathering attended by over 500 Motor Vehicle Department Officers and Inspectors from over 20 states, and road safety experts along with speakers who had come from various parts of the country and abroad.
“Statistics say that most of the accidents happen because of neglect by drivers. If that is so, then you must find out the socio-political profile of the driver. And in this regard, I believe that it is the educated and trained young driver who requires intervention more than the uneducated one,” averred Dr Joshi. He said that for road safety in rural areas, no provision exists for compensation. “How can you do anything without such a provision,” he asked.
Dr Joshi also emphasised the point that road safety was a serious issue that could not be discussed in isolation from other traffic issues. He said that for effective enforcement it was important to make available scientific information to the associated agencies. “Traffic policemen have not been a part of the scientific management training,” he noted.
First International Conference on Road Safety Vision 2020 was organised by Mohanlal Sukhadia University (Udaipur), All India Federation of Motor Vehicles Department Technical Executive Officers Association (AIFMVDTEOA) and Transport Department, Government of Rajasthan. Held on May 21 and 22, it was sponsored by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India.
Earlier, while inaugurating the conference, Brij Kishore Sharma, Rajasthan’s Minister for Transport announced that his government was opening two Drivers’ Training Institutes in the state soon and the Centre had approved an amount of
र13 crore for the same. He opined that stricter rules were needed for accidents that were caused by neglect and also called for amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act. He stressed upon the installation of speed governors in the vehicles during the manufacturing stage itself and said that the vehicle manufacturers must be insisted upon to do so.
Deepak Upreti, Principal Secretary and Commissioner, Transport Department – Government of Rajasthan, Dr G Gururaj, NIMHANS – Bangalore, KK Kapila, Chairman – International Road Federation and Pramod Bhasin of the NGO Muskan were other prominent speakers.
“We are very concerned with the issue of road safety because we feel morally responsible for putting the drivers and vehicles on to the roads as we issue licences, register vehicles and annually inspect the vehicles for fitness,” said Ashfak Ahamed, President, AIFMVDTEOA while speaking with TrafficInfraTech. “So, we wanted to have a conference to discuss the serious issues we face and to try and arrive at a few solutions since accidents and fatalities on roads are on the rise. A lot of things are spoken at various levels but nothing concrete happens. And we wanted to arrive at concrete decisions. I am very happy with the conference as transport officers got motivated at the gathering and many important issues were discussed. We also wanted to make a beginning on discussing the issue of having a curriculum on road safety because except two states, it does not exist anywhere. It is a complex issue but we are happy that a solid beginning was made in this regard. Once such courses begin, it will lead to better drivers and vehicles on the road which will enable us to carry out many motivational programmes – both for the drivers and the road users.”
Veerendra Singh Rathore, the Organising Secretary of the conference said his vision is that road safety and traffic management must soon become a part of school and college curriculum with a proper scope being offered to the students of these streams. “I am happy that these issues were taken up and the Honourable Union Minister opined that even the traffic cop on the street will be better equipped to manage traffic if he comes equipped with such education and training. Field officers also need training to implement the safety and management issues scientifically,” he said. Rathore added that a new cell on road safety needs to be established on the national level which will ensure uniformity in the enforcement of transport and safety issues as different states interpret the issues differently at present. “Also, my dream is that a new stream – Indian Transport Service – gets added in IAS just like IPS and IRS. The Transport Department must be a technical department and its staff must move from revenue oriented services to technical services. The behaviour of the road users also needs to be addressed. I am happy that all these issues were not only raised at the conference but also heavily debated upon. Every state must have a transport research institute. As Mr Joshi has promised to look into all the recommendations seriously, I feel very happy that the conference was able to achieve what we had in mind.”
Suresh Kaul, Vice President, AIFMVDTEOA told the magazine, “The interactions and involvement of the speakers as well as the listeners makes me very happy. Frankly, we were not sure to what extent the listeners, i.e. the participating staff of Motor Vehicles Transport Department, would show involvement. But we were delighted with their questions and suggestions. Their serious concerns and bright foresight came across so well when the house was opened for debate to draft the recommendations. This gives us the confidence that we will meet our 2020 challenges with clarity of thought. We have a vision and a mission. And now, we know how to reach there. What the honourable minister and the Transport Ministry will do, we do not know but we are happy that we were able to exert pressure on the ministry on the seriousness of the issue and expectations of the transport department. We are sure that with this unity, the future will see better cohesiveness in our working that will lead to safer roads.”
Eminent speakers at the conference included R S Raghunath, Chief Advisor, AIFMVDTEOA, Bangalore who spoke on ‘Education in Road: A Review’ and Susanne Ebner, M D, Herbert Ebner, Austria (‘Role of School and College Education in Road Safety’). Mrridul Bhasin, Founder, Muskan Foundation for Road Safety, Jaipur (‘Need of a Cohesive Road Safety Education in India’); Mukesh Sharma, FSL, Pratapgarh/HO, Jaipur (‘Forensic Aspects in Road Safety) and P K Sikdar, ICT Pvt Ltd, New Delhi (‘Road Safety Education in Schools’); Shashi Nambison, IOWA University, USA (‘Enhancing Road Safety Through Education and Engineering Strategies’), Amitabh Bajpai, ITS India, Delhi (‘ITS Capacity Building’); Ashutosh Atray, Consultant in Road Safety Initiatives & Traffic Planning, Navi Mumbai (‘Road Safety Initiatives to Minimise Road Accidents’), Anil Chhikara, MLO, Delhi (‘Enhancing Road Safety with Infrastructure Solutions’) and Vinod Vasudevan, IIT Kanpur (‘Systematic Approach to Address Road Safety’) also spoke on the occasion. Jitendra Patil, Deputy RTO, Pune gave a scientific presentation on various positive measures adopted by his department in training school children in road safety and Kerala RTO officer, Gokul outlined the measures adopted by his state in bringing down accidents.
A wide range of subjects were discussed at the conference that led to many recommendations being drafted. Roads to be made as ‘forgiving roads’, use of all safety aspects in vehicles during the manufacturing stage itself, all roads to have passive speed control devices built into the road itself, all rural areas to be provided with bus bases, all transport departments to compulsory put the three mandatory tapes on every vehicle coming to the department, manufacturers to provide automatic speed governors in every heavy vehicle, etc. were some of the many recommendations agreed upon at the conference. Amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act on overloading of commercial vehicles, recruiting only technical people in transport department to issue licences & register vehicles and inspect old vehicles were also recommendations the delegates agreed upon. Including road safety in school curriculum and educating school children and college students in road safety too were important issues that were discussed seriously.